Book Review: Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

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Get inspired by the true-life story of David Goggins, one of the world’s fittest men, in his book “Can’t Hurt Me”. Follow along as we explore his remarkable journey from a challenging childhood and overweight twenties to becoming one of the world’s fittest soldiers.

Through this book, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of how Goggins became an inspirational athlete and military man, and learn about the key life events that shaped his unbreakable mindset and focus.

In this review, we’ll provide an overview of what you can expect to learn from this incredible book. So let’s dive in!

Key Insights

Lesson 1: David Goggins’ early years were marked by his father’s violent and demanding behavior.

Many American children have the luxury of growing up with playtime, a sense of security, and loving parents. Unfortunately, this was not the reality for David Goggins, born in 1975 in New York. Instead of enjoying the simple pleasures of childhood, Goggins and his mother lived under the control of his tyrannical father, Trunnis, who owned a roller-disco rink and only employed family members.

From the tender age of six, Goggins and his mother were forced to work long hours at the rink, sometimes until midnight, nearly every day of the week. Young Goggins was responsible for maintaining the roller skates, while his mother prepared their meals on a hotplate in the rink’s office. After their late-night shifts, they would sleep in the same office, often struggling to find rest amid the blaring music from the dance floor. This exhausting schedule made it difficult for Goggins to focus in school.

What made this challenging lifestyle even more unbearable for Goggins was his father’s violent nature. Trunnis would beat his mother with a belt whenever she disobeyed him. One time, when Goggins had a severe ear infection, his mother took him to the hospital. Trunnis, however, was unwilling to spend money on his children’s health and brutally beat her upon her return. Goggins also received beatings when he tried to protect his mother, often having to hide the bruises and welts left by his father’s belt.

A turning point came when Goggins was eight years old, as he and his mother managed to escape Trunnis with the help of a kind-hearted neighbor. His mother persuaded Trunnis to provide her with a credit card in her name, which they used to flee Trunnis’s house in Brazil, Indiana. Although they were able to start a new life away from Trunnis’s control, guilt weighed heavily on their hearts for leaving Goggins’s older brother behind.

Regrettably, their new life in Indiana would not bring the significant changes one might have hoped for. Still, the experiences Goggins faced throughout his childhood would ultimately shape him into the incredibly resilient and driven individual he is today. Through perseverance and determination, Goggins overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles, proving that even the most challenging beginnings can lead to extraordinary outcomes.

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Lesson 2: While Goggins fled his father, he couldn’t escape the pain he had suffered at the hands of his father.

David Goggins had a difficult childhood, despite managing to escape his abusive father. He and his mother moved to a small town in Indiana, where they confronted the harsh realities of poverty and the lingering trauma from his past. To make ends meet, they depended on a meager welfare check and a part-time job, while living in public housing.

The aftereffects of David’s traumatic upbringing began to surface when he was in the third grade. He developed a nervous stutter, lost hair, and noticed patches of discolored skin, all of which were results of years of abuse.

David soon understood that he was experiencing toxic stress, a condition where severe abuse leads to long-term alterations in brain chemistry, causing a constant state of “fight or flight.” This meant that David’s brain and body were perpetually on high alert.

Toxic stress can also affect memory, which made it challenging for David to retain information learned in school. His teachers unfairly labeled him as unintelligent, and being the only black student in his class, he faced daily ridicule and discrimination.

David was at risk of being expelled and sent to a “special needs” facility. To avoid this fate, he resorted to cheating on tests and assignments, allowing him to stay in school but significantly hindering his education.

As David entered his teenage years, he was unaware of the extent of his illiteracy. The combination of toxic stress, unfair treatment at school, and his difficult living situation created a challenging environment for David to grow and learn.

However, his story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity, and a reminder that everyone deserves the opportunity to overcome their past and reach their full potential.

Lesson 3: Goggins was held back by fear and disappointment when he was a young man.

Growing up, David grappled with academic difficulties and low literacy levels. Despite these challenges, he set a lofty ambition for himself as a teenager: to serve in the United States Air Force. Through determination and hard work, David improved his reading skills and was accepted into military training. However, his journey was far from straightforward.

David aspired to become an Air Force pararescue, an elite soldier responsible for parachuting into war zones and saving injured pilots. To fulfill this role, he needed to master swimming – a skill he lacked. David had not even seen a pool until he was 12, and his mother couldn’t afford to provide him with swimming lessons. His inability to swim hindered his progress in military training, and he eventually succumbed to fear, giving up on the increasingly difficult challenges.

A subsequent medical examination revealed that David had a predisposition to sickle cell anemia, a blood disorder. Consequently, he was discharged from the military on medical grounds. As he prepared to leave, David realized he should confront his challenges, but fear had already taken hold.

By the age of 24, with his military aspirations dashed, David found himself in a dead-end job as a night shift exterminator. He sought solace in food to numb his disappointment, causing his weight to balloon from 255 to nearly 300 pounds. David’s routine involved indulging in a milkshake and doughnuts after work, followed by a calorie-laden breakfast at his mother’s home. Food became his refuge from the harsh reality of his life: he was uneducated, unskilled, and on a path to nowhere.

It was at this low point that David discovered the motivation to transform his mediocre existence. With newfound determination, he embarked on a journey to overcome his fears, embrace challenges, and ultimately, emerge victorious.

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Lesson 4: To become a Navy SEAL, Goggins changed his life and his body.

A life-changing documentary about Navy SEALs in training captivated David Goggins after he indulged in a massive breakfast. He was struck by the mental and physical resilience of the SEAL recruits as they endured hardship and pain. This moment set him on a determined path to become a Navy SEAL himself. Goggins spent weeks calling recruitment offices across the United States, desperately seeking a chance to train as a SEAL.

Fortuitously, Goggins discovered a program that allowed former recruits to rejoin the Navy, which would enable him to pursue SEAL training. However, two significant obstacles stood in his way. The program was closing in just three months, and at 297 pounds, Goggins exceeded the maximum weight limit of 191 pounds. To qualify for the SEALs, he needed to shed over 100 pounds in less than three months.

Undaunted, Goggins embarked on a grueling fitness journey. He committed to a rigorous daily schedule: a 4:30 AM wakeup followed by two hours on an exercise bike, two hours of swimming, intense circuit training with a minimum of five sets of 200 repetitions for each major muscle group, and more hours on the exercise bike. Even after dinner, he returned to the bike for another two-hour session.

Goggins’ hard work and dedication began to show results. Within two weeks of starting his strict fitness routine, he had already lost 25 pounds. He continued to push himself, running four miles every day and engaging in rigorous gym workouts that included intense circuit training and muscle-building exercises. By the time the deadline arrived to enroll in the program, Goggins was prepared for the challenge ahead.

The program’s demanding five-and-a-half-day training period included minimal sleep and physically exhausting exercises in water and sand. Despite the immense challenges, Goggins’ unwavering determination carried him through to success. He completed the training and achieved his dream of becoming a Navy SEAL. This inspiring story of David Goggins showcases how commitment, perseverance, and an unyielding spirit can help overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Lesson 5: Goggins’ greatest accomplishment is his ultra-running credentials.

David Goggins, a former Navy SEAL, sought new challenges after leaving the military and found his passion in ultrarunning in 2005. He decided to use his newfound love for the sport to support a good cause by fundraising for the families of Navy SEALs who had been killed in Afghanistan.

To achieve this goal, he set his sights on the Badwater 135, one of the toughest ultramarathons in the world. This race covers 135 miles, starting below sea level in Death Valley, California, and ending at 8,374 feet above sea level. The race is held in July, when Death Valley is at its hottest, and top competitors usually complete it in less than 48 hours.

To qualify for the Badwater 135, Goggins had to first complete a 100-mile race. Despite having no special training, he took on the challenge and completed the race in just 19 hours, even though he experienced loss of bladder and bowel control due to exhaustion. He went the extra mile to ensure he had truly finished the race. This accomplishment led to his acceptance to compete in the 2006 Badwater 135 race. He trained vigorously for the race, studying the terrain and training in extreme heat.

His hard work paid off, and he finished the race in 30 hours, coming in fifth place. This accomplishment was a testament to his incredible dedication and determination. Goggins’ story is an inspiring example of how anyone can achieve their goals through hard work and perseverance, even in the face of extreme adversity.

His fundraising efforts for the families of fallen Navy SEALs also highlight the importance of supporting those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

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Lesson 6: Anyone can emulate Goggins’ success with a lot of hard work

David Goggins is a well-known African-American SEAL and ultra runner who inspires people to achieve their goals through hard work and determination. Many people ask him how they can achieve the same level of success, and he believes that talent and passion alone are not enough. Goggins emphasizes that a strong work ethic is crucial to mastering yourself and reaching your full potential.

One of Goggins’ daily routines includes waking up at 4 a.m. and running six to ten miles before starting his day. He then bikes 25 miles to work, works a nine-to-five desk job, and either goes to the gym or runs six more miles during his lunch break. After work, he bikes 50 miles home, resulting in over 100 miles of cycling and running in a single day. Goggins’ dedication and hard work have led to his many achievements.

Many people claim that they don’t have enough time to devote to achieving their goals, but Goggins believes that it’s simply a matter of “winning the morning.” By beginning your day with hard work and determination, you can set yourself up for success. If you want to follow in Goggins’ footsteps and accomplish great things, start by pushing yourself early in the morning.


1. Personal Transformation and Empowerment

David Goggins’ book, Can’t Hurt Me, is a powerful testimony to the strength of the human spirit and the potential for personal transformation. The author’s story of overcoming adversity and turning his life around is not only inspiring but also relatable. The profound impact this book had on my mindset and work life is a testament to its effectiveness. Goggins’ approach to facing challenges and overcoming victim mentality has the potential to change anyone’s life for the better.

2. Relatable and Inspiring Weight Loss Journey

One of the most striking aspects of Goggins’ story is his remarkable weight loss journey. As someone who has struggled with weight gain and loss throughout my life, I found his story incredibly relatable. Goggins’ dedication and hard work in this area are truly inspiring, serving as a source of motivation for anyone who has ever battled with their weight. His journey is a testament to the power of determination and commitment in the face of adversity.

3. No-Nonsense Approach to Personal Growth

Can’t Hurt Me is not your typical self-help book. Instead, it’s a self-realization book that pushes readers to recognize their full potential and stop making excuses. The book serves as a reminder that we all have the power to change our lives for the better, regardless of the obstacles we face. Goggins’ no-nonsense approach encourages readers to embrace adversity and never give up. By following his lead, anyone has the chance to prosper and achieve their dreams.


1. Controversial Ideologies

David Goggins’ Can’t Hurt Me is an inspiring book with a powerful message, but it also contains controversial ideologies that some readers might find unsettling. On page 59, Goggins states that most white men have no idea how hard it can be to walk into a room where you are the only one of your kind.

This statement, rooted in Critical Race Theory, generalizes the experiences of white males and ignores the fact that many white men, particularly those who are Catholic, have faced discrimination and bigotry throughout history. By lumping all white males together based on their skin color, Goggins inadvertently perpetuates a racist stereotype.

2. Profanity and Offensive Language

While the book is engaging and well-written, it contains excessive profanity and offensive language, which can be off-putting to some readers. Goggins frequently uses derogatory terms to describe female genitalia as a synonym for weakness, which is demeaning and inappropriate.

Although the language may be a reflection of the harsh environments Goggins has experienced, it detracts from the overall message of the book and may alienate readers who find such language offensive.

3. Extreme Emphasis on Pain and Suffering

David Goggins’ relentless pursuit of pain and suffering in order to build mental resilience raises concerns about the long-term effects on his physical and emotional well-being. His constant overtraining and disregard for his body’s limits led to serious health issues, including adrenal fatigue.

While mental toughness is an important aspect of endurance and personal growth, Goggins’ approach may encourage readers to push themselves to dangerous extremes. The book seems to promote an unhealthy obsession with pain and suffering, rather than emphasizing the importance of balance, self-care, and moderation in the pursuit of personal growth.


David Goggins’s book “Can’t Hurt Me” serves as a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of hard work and determination. Goggins’s journey from a troubled childhood to becoming a Navy SEAL and ultramarathon runner is nothing short of inspiring.

His commitment to self-improvement, including mastering swimming and shedding excess weight, shows that it is never too late to chase one’s dreams. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking to overcome their own challenges and accomplish their goals.

Ultimately, Goggins’s story teaches us that with unwavering dedication, early mornings, and persistent effort, we can conquer any obstacles that stand in our way and create the life we truly desire.

About The Author

David Goggins is a former world record holder for the most pull-ups performed in 24 hours and an ultramarathon runner. Goggins served in both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as a former US Navy SEAL.

Buy The Book: Can’t Hurt Me

If you want to buy the book Can’t Hurt Me, you can get it from the following links:

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